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Punjab Govt Presents Over Rs 2 Lakh Crore Budget for 2024-25, Accords Special Focus on Health, Education – News18

Punjab Finance Minister Harpal Singh Cheema on Tuesday presented the state’s budget for the financial year 2024-25 envisaging total outlay of over Rs 2 lakh crore, providing special focus on health and education.

While presenting the budget in the state assembly, he also announced several new initiatives, while earmarking Rs 575 crore for various crop diversification schemes for farmers.

Of the total annual outlay of over Rs 2 lakh crore, Cheema said, Rs 13,784 crore has been earmarked for the agriculture sector and Rs 16,987 crore for the education sector.

“I propose a total budget expenditure of Rs 2,04,918 crore for FY 2024-25. The effective revenue deficit and fiscal deficit are expected to be 2.77 per cent and 3.80 per cent, respectively,” he said, adding that the two respective figures were 3.13 per cent and 4.12 per cent in the previous fiscal.

Cheema said that the government has proposed a Malwa canal project, which aims to reduce reliance on ground water and optimize under-utilized Punjab’s share of Beas-Satluj river water during the Rabi period.

The new Malwa canal project aims to cover approximately 1,78,000 acres, benefiting farmers in Bathinda, Faridkot, Ferozepur and Muktsar districts, he said.

The FY25 budget also has an allocation of Rs 575 crore for various crop diversification schemes. We must keep encouraging our hard-working farmers to diversify and thus the AAP government shall keep on focusing on such schemes in future as well, Cheema said in his budget speech.

“Our government is committed to our ‘annadatas’ in every way and as a gesture of continued support for them, we have allocated Rs 9,330 crore in FY 2024-25 towards power subsidy for agriculture.

“I propose a budgetary outlay of Rs 194 crore for soil and water conservation, including proposals to undertake two new NABARD projects for providing financial assistance to farmers for laying underground pipelines for irrigation,” he said.

The finance minister also announced an outlay of Rs 16,987 crore for the education sector, which is around 11.5 per cent of the total estimated expenditure in the next fiscal.

He said 118 government schools will undergo a transformation to become state-of-the-art ‘schools of eminence’ and 14 Schools of Eminence have already been started.

The government has budgeted Rs 100 crore in FY25 for this purpose. Besides, 100 government senior secondary schools will be transformed as ‘Schools of Brilliance’, he said, adding that an initial allocation of Rs 10 crore has been earmarked for the purpose.

This scheme aims to elevate education quality and transform these rural schools into centres of learning from Class 6 to 12, Cheema said.

Further, to develop skills including technical skills in students, to enable them to earn a livelihood, ‘School of Applied Learning’ is proposed to be established with an initial provision of Rs 10 crore in FY25. In the first phase, hi-tech vocational labs would be constructed in 40 schools, he said.

To create a nurturing learning environment for young students aged 3 to 11, the government also proposes to transform 100 primary government schools into ‘Schools of Happiness’.

The focus would be on providing well-ventilated classrooms, dedicated play areas, resource rooms and activity corners, Cheema said. For this scheme, Rs 10 crore has been provisioned in FY25, he added.

In the health sector, a total of 829 ‘Aam Aadmi Clinics’ have already been established in the state and many more are in the pipeline. 80 types of medicines and 38 diagnostic lab tests are being provided free of cost at these clinics. So far, more than one crore patients have availed treatment, he said.

“An allocation of Rs 249 crore has been earmarked in FY2024-25 for strengthening this revolutionary initiative further,” the finance minister said.

The government proposes to establish 1,000 sports nurseries for about 60,000 sportspersons aged 6 to 17 in all districts of Punjab, Cheema said. During his speech, Cheema targeted the central government, saying, “it is also my responsibility to apprise this august House about the apathy shown by the Union government towards Punjab”.

“The withholding of the rightful share of the state, totalling Rs 8,000 crore approximately, on account of National Health Mission (NHM), Rural Development Fund (RDF), Mandi Development Fund (MDF), and Special Assistance to State for Capital Investment has directly affected the developmental works and has put additional burden on the state treasury,” he said.

Cheema said that the annual growth rate in state’s own tax revenue has been much higher, that is 13 per cent as against compound annual growth rate of 8 per cent during 2012-17 and 6 per cent during 2017-22.

“Our government promised ‘Rangla Punjab’ (vibrant Punjab) and has been focusing on key areas such as good governance, education and health,” he said.

The AAP (Aam Aadmi Party) government has implemented a series of measures to streamline administrative processes, enhance transparency, and curb corruption, he said, while adding that the Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann-led government has provided 40,437 jobs to the deserving youth during these two years.

As per the advanced estimates provided by the Directorate of Statistics, Punjab is growing at the rate of 9.41 per cent in the current year and the GSDP (gross state domestic product) stands at Rs 7,36,423 crore.

The GSDP has been estimated to grow at 9 per cent to Rs 8,02,701 crore in FY 2024-25.

A budgetary outlay of Rs 10,635 crore for Home Affairs, Justice and Jails Department will support their law enforcement initiatives, he said.

(This story has not been edited by News18 staff and is published from a syndicated news agency feed – PTI)

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